God has called us to wake the world to Jesus. A mission that's impossible if we're asleep in the light.
Q: It seems to me there’s a real problem with the church these days. There’s a ton of talk about reaching the world, but so little seems to be happening. Jesus said his church, his people, would be light in a world of darkness. Yet the darkness seems to be growing. From your view, what’s going on?
A: It’s definitely not a problem with Jesus’ promise about his church. And it’s not a problem with how dark our world is. The early church brought light to a world far darker than ours. From my perspective, we have a problem with spiritual narcolepsy. It’s time for believers to wake up.
I believe the biggest obstacle to the church fulfilling its mission is on the inside. Too many believers are asleep in the light. And the real problem is they don’t know it.
It’s not the first time. The church at Sardis experienced the same problem. “I know your deeds,” Jesus tells them. “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” (Rev. 3:1-3).
Jesus makes it clear. Believers can look awake. They can be highly respected for their lives of faith. They can do and say all the right things. And yet they’re dead, asleep in the light.
Could this be the problem in your church, in your own life? I’ve been personally wrestling with that question for a while now. In order to get to the answer, I’ve worked through some ways to detect signs of spiritual narcolepsy in my life and the life of our church family.
Nine Signs of Spiritual Narcolepsy
1. We talk about Jesus but aren’t genuinely experiencing him. He’s distant and unreal in our everyday life. He’s someone we talk about more than we talk with.
2. Our relationship with Jesus, our spiritual life, is more of a weekend thing than an every day of the week thing. Church defines our experience with Christ more than Christ defines our life experience.
3. Our spiritual life is more form than substance. It’s more an outside than inside reality. We may do and say all the right things, avoid all the wrong things, but it’s not real or alive in us. It’s something we do but not necessarily something we are.
4. We haven’t experienced much authentic change in our life in a long while, though we’ve been faithfully doing all the right things. Since it’s impossible to genuinely experience Jesus and remain unchanged, this is a clear sign we’re asleep in the light.
5. We are more concerned about the role God is playing in our plans than the role we should be playing in his plans.
6. We seldom really consider the eternal condition of people in our world. We are able to rub shoulders with them daily without ever addressing their spiritual condition.
7. We’re living spiritually unnoticed. The people around us don’t know we’re Christ-followers. They don’t notice anything different about us because there’s nothing to notice. They don’t pursue our advice when things aren’t going well in their lives.
8. We tend to live for the moment more than the eternal. Today defines our choices more than eternity.
9. We don’t feel like we have a problem with being “asleep in the light.” This is a big one for me. When I’m not consciously aware of the danger of becoming less passionate spiritually, it’s a clear sign I’m already there.